Densham put any doubters to rest with her stunning performance at the first of the Dextro Energy Triathlon series in Sydney. Edging out the top two women in the world at the moment, Helen Jenkins and Andrea Hewitt, Densham’s first place is surely the key to Olympic selection.

Photo courtesy of Eyes Wide Open Images

Sydney was a hive of activity this morning as some of the worlds best triathletes, representing over 39 countries, converged on Sydney and the iconic Hyde Park for the first major World Championship Series event of the year. In what was predicted to be the most competitive triathlon in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics, the atmosphere was electric as athletes began to arrive, making last minute preparations before the start of the race.

Amongst the high calibre of triathletes, including New Zealand’s, Andrea Hewitt and Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, the Australian local favorites were ready to lead the charge: Emma Moffatt, who had already secured her spot for the Olympic team, was ready to race and looked determined to give a good performance; while The Olympic hopefuls, previous world champion Emma Snowsill, Emma Jackson, Erin Densham and Ashleigh Gentle were all set to fight for that allusive spot on the Australian Olympic team. Charlotte McShane, a young up and comer on the World Series scene, was also there, determined and ready to play with the big kids.

Sydney was always going to be one of the most spectacular settings for a triathlon, but with April often bringing unpredictable weather conditions, there was definitely a sigh of relief when the sun rose and served up perfect conditions. Not a cloud in the sky, and only a gentle breeze blowing – it was going to be a fast race.

Heading in to the swim the atmosphere was electric. The only thing that could affect performance at this stage was the glare from the rising sun. The swim was a two lap course, followed by a run underneath the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House into T1 before heading off on to the bike.

By the first turn around, as most athletes were settling into their paces, the lead swimmer had a 5-10meter lead. These girls were flying through that swim and they weren’t there to play nice. Eventual winner, Densham said in her post race interview that she was pushed and pulled in the swim, “I got absolutely belted. It’s so brutal out there.” They had one goal and one goal only; to position themselves in the best possible way to ensure a good race.

Japan’s, Mariko Adachi was the first swimmer out of the water after the first lap, followed closely by Emma Moffatt. Adachi continued her lead came out of the swim in a total time of 19:07, with the other athletes following closely behind.

The 40km cycle course was eight laps. It was a technical course, but great for the athletes who could take advantage of the corners and hills that presented opportunities to get away. The eight laps definitely made it very spectator friendly.

Early on, two main packs had formed. Moffatt and Jackson were both in the lead pack, pushing hard, while Snowsill was in the second pack, and didn’t look too happy being there. This was going to be an exciting and fierce race.

The lead group was putting pressure on the chase group, making it as hard as possible for the chase group to catch up. But with five laps to go they had closed the gap. Two laps later the gap was closed and there were around 50 athletes in the lead pack all pushing the pace, hard. It was going to be interesting to see what some of the stronger runners, including Moffatt, Hewitt and Jenkins could do.

Young gun Charlotte McShane was leading the fourth pack, comprised of five athletes. This was great experience for her, mixing it with the worlds best. McShane’s run is solid, but possibly not strong enough to be in the running now.

The run was where the fight really began. It was a four lap course with Densham leading the train of athletes out of T2. She was flying, barely touching the ground as she ran out of sight.

By the second lap, the leaders, Jenkins, Densham and Hewitt were cemented. But it was Jenkins and Densham who were going toe to toe. Moffatt followed a few minutes behind, but looked to be fading. With Snowsill about 1-2 minutes behind her. Back to the leaders, Hewitt dropped off the pace, and Densham executed a break away from Jenkins looking strong, powerful and focussed After a less than perfect last four years of injuries and illnesses that she had endured, this was going to be a sweet reward.

By the last lap Densham had the race. It was hers. While other athletes started to look tired and worn, she remained strong and on top of her game. Running down the finish chute, the crowd roaring, it was a perfect end to her race. “This is my biggest win so far, so it’s great,” Densham exclaimed. Crossing the line with a 34:28 run, and a 2:01:29 total time, Densham had surely secured a spot on the Australian Olympic team – “We were told earlier in the year that they (selectors) would make a decision straight after Sydney, but who knows.”

Helen Jenkins held on strong for the second position, and Andrea Hewitt for third. Both women were happy with their races, and their Olympic campaign.

1st = Erin Densham

2nd = Helen Jenkins

3rd = Andrea Hewitt

4th = Gwen Jorgensen

5th = Nicola Spirig

6th = Ainhoa Murua

7th = Anne Haug

8th = Kathy Tremblay

9th = Mariko Adachi

10th = Ashleigh Gentle

About The Author

Margaret Mielczarek

Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and Accredited Sports Dietitian Margaret Mielczarek is an Accredited Sports Dietitian with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics/Bachelor of Applied Science (Health Science) from Deakin University, where she graduated with a High Distinction average. www.fuelrightnutrition.com.au

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